Well, this is meant to be the crowning glory of power metal (isn't it?), the brainchild of Edguy's Tobias Sammet (officially, the album is actually credited to Tobias Sammet's Avantasia), who decided to bring together a Who's Who of the genre and produce a story that somehow manages to combine Roman Catholicism and gnosticism with elves and dwarves!
A few notable names here include Sammet himself, Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray), David DeFeis (Virgin Steele), Rob Rock (various works), Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius), and Michael Kiske (former Helloween, later Place Vendome) who, for some reason, is credited as 'Ernie' here.
So this is undoubtedly an impressive undertaking, and indeed remarkable considering Sammet was just 23 years old at the time. He wrote the whole thing, as well as produced it, and it indeed does sound gorgeous. He also takes the leading roll of Gabriel Laymann, and I admit though I've never been a big fan of Tobias' voice, he does a pretty good job here, and the same can be said for his keyboard work.
As for its operatic leanings ... yes, we have different people playing different parts, and the story is written in careful detail, but it could just as easily be seen as a standard power metal record if one was just to listen to it casually. No grandiose orchestration or choirs. Just some good riffs, catchy melodies (like the rousing "Farewell" and "Avantasia") and plenty of fast playing.
I don't think it's good enough to be the very best among what was by 2001 becoming a very large selection of power metal releases, but it is highly enjoyable, and really is a must for fans of this wonderful genre. Rated:
by Reviewer: The Doctor